The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

The only column on the Internet that will guarantee mentions Martha Stewart, Todd McFarlane, John Stamos, Patricia Heaton AND Luke Perry before it’s all over”¦

LOOK AT THIS”¦”¦

** I refuse to talk about this Yogi Berra suing TBS nonsense any more than this sentence and asking this question: Why is it that every media outlet between Boston and Berkeley felt the need to report this as important news?!?!

** If you were looking for any racy and/or crude Super Bowl ads this year, you may be waiting a while”¦

** MTV 2 is back. I didn’t even know it left. Well, I guess it did and now it’s being aimed, in part, at 12-year-old boys. Looks like I’ll continue to never watch that channel. Terrific.

** Just what we need, more proof that ABC’s The Bachelor/Bachelorette is a scam. Great. Another couple bites the dust.

** My tribute to (somewhat) hard news of the week: Tucker Carlson didn’t stay unemployed for very long. MSNBC, desperate for anything to pick up its ratings, has signed him to take over the talk show slot left vacant by Deborah Norville.

THE OPENING CREDITS: More IP TV stuff that we ALL can be proud of”¦

** After a one week hiatus of sorts, my So-Called Television Column is back and it’s a collaborative effort with IP Sports’ Mark Urciuolo. For the most part, we spoke glowingly of ESPN’s new drama, Tilt..

** Since I’ve gotten in the habit of linking my last Groove Tube Update, I’ll keep that tradition alive”¦Go here for a Johnny Carson tribute and an update on the Wonderfalls DVD.

** I don’t know how he does it, but our faithful IP TV editor scored a major interview in Todd Everett, the first person fired in Season 3 of The Apprentice. Todd has got some interesting comments about the infamous Burger King task.

** Nick Warnock is still pumping out great columns on The Apprentice. We like him so very much.

** Cheri was busy this week (like most weeks) as she pumped out a column on reality show judges (though I’m not sure why she spent so much time looking at Wickedly Perfect, a show that probably won’t be back for a second season) and an extensive recap of the fourth episode of the latest season of The Bachelorette. Good God almighty. Not only did she sit through it, she wrote more than 2000 words about it.

** Brian screwed up his cable TV column by writing about the Royal Rumble, but, thankfully, he saves it with some good comments about Monk that I’ll highlight instead. Nothing personal brother”¦

** Poor Mark Polishuk”¦ He lost his mammoth column and had to come up with Plan B. He’s probably still swearing about it”¦Well, his Everybody Loves Raymond column is an adequate replacement”¦Check it out.

** Sarah Quigley asks an immortal question in her latest column:

I’m such a dork. I teach in the evenings, so I have to program my VCR on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday to record my favorite reality TV shows. Then, after work, I rush home as quickly as possible (which lately, due to the damn fire in the NYC subway, has been damn near impossible), wolf down some dinner, and affix myself to the sofa with my knitting needles. Are these shows really that good or do I just need a life? Hmm. That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. I’m not sure I really want people contacting me with the answer.

That’s truly a question that’s purely subjective. After all, these shows will likely be summarized and made fun of when I Love the 2000s comes out next decade on VH-1, so does that make them “good?” Hmmm”¦..

** Ms. Quigley also finishes her two-parter on Survivor players with brains.

** Mike Lawrence talked about his love life and his love for Homeboys from Outer Space. Wow.

** Carlos is still summarizing Saturday Night Live“¦I think. This column was more of a tribute to Paul Giamatti than anything else”¦

** Survivor must be getting close. Patrick is back in column writing mode.

** Mr. Big Shot, Matt Romanada is hard at work again with a recap of the most recent 24 (1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.) and a column devoted to”¦other stuff.

TV NEWS: Is Martha Stewart really the best thing I’ve got?

** Martha Stewart gets another job while she’s in the clink? – Here’s a question. Is Mark Burnett a television producer or Martha Stewart’s personal really high-powered publicist?

According to Burnett, while the deal was brokered before Stewart went to jail last year, it was announced officially this week that she would be hosting a n NBC spin-off of the now famous The Apprentice franchise made famous by uber billionaire Donald Trump. The lame title: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Let’s hope the show is more creative than the title.

Unfortunately, all the announcement has done is generate a heaping amount of confusion. After all, it is not very clear exactly how it will be different and unique from Trump’s current The Apprentice series, what Stewart’s role will be, what she is looking for in an , when it will air and, most importantly, what she’s going to say instead of “You’re fired!”

There are bits of information being leaked out but they aren’t terribly helpful. TVGuide.com reported that “”¦it appears NBC will rotate both editions as opposed to airing them simultaneously.” So, The Apprentice could end up on year-round. (I think I just felt a cold shiver in the room here”¦)

In a Zap2it.com story, they got a quote from Burnett stating the ideal candidate will have the following super duper traits:

She’s looking for somebody’s who’s creative, but defined broadly, creativity includes marketing, inventing, using technology to sell her brand. She’s also looking for someone who can think on their feet and can make decisions and be brave.

That helps.

Sadly, Burnett also confirmed in the Zap2it.com article that the new show will virtually ignore Stewart’s prison sentence and her release later this year from the West Virginia federal prison she’s being held in.

The show is not going to be focusing on her walking out of Alderson. That won’t even be in the show, in any of the shows. I’m not interested in that side of it. It happened. It was an experience. She won’t avoid it. She may mention it, but in passing. We’re not going to try to make a mockery or a game out of a very serious part of her life.

Too bad”¦I would have loved to see the PR spin on that mammoth media event.

Even though the new spin-off doesn’t appear to have much of a direction yet, it’s still a major coup for Stewart. When she gets out of prison in a few months, she will not only have a new syndicated daytime show that will be produced by Burnett and has been received very well by local affiliates, but she will leap into a spin-off of one of the few constantly successful reality series, which will be produced by Burnett AND Trump.
NBC Universal Jeff Zucker had some things to say himself about the appeal of Martha Stewart:

There’s no question that each of us is fascinated by the rags-to-riches and comeback in this country and I think that nobody is a better example of that than Martha. I think that that is part of what the tremendous interest in her will be both in daytime and in the primetime version of The Apprentice when that airs.

Well”¦I guess he’s got a point. His theory is shot a little bit though considering every convicted felon that “makes it on the outside” doesn’t get a primetime TV show produced by a producing God like Mark Burnett.

I also think that even though she now has the “convicted felon” scarlet letter stitched to her for the rest of her life, the bottom line is she cooks and makes cool stuff and people are drawn to that so they can do it themselves. That’s her appeal and that isn’t exactly going away any time soon”¦

So, for those confused and/or angered why this woman will get out of prison and probably become MORE successful than before she went in, just remember she cooks and makes cool stuff, the kind of stuff your mom/sister/wife/girlfriend/possibly even gay friend or at least male friend who likes to cook is in to.

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** For the first time in almost 20 years, a Star Trek series will NOT be on the air somewhere”¦at all”¦ – No one is quite sure how it lasted as it long as it did (four seasons and 98 episodes), but UPN is finally putting the Star Trek prequel Enterprise to bed with a series finale set to air on Friday, May 13. According to Zap2it.com, the news of the show’s cancellation was delivered to series creators and producers series creators and executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, along with fellow executive producer Manny Coto on Tuesday, Feb. 1, with cast and crew finding out Wednesday morning (Feb. 2).

For those hoping that the series may get picked up by the Sci Fi channel or some other cable network (like the fortunate events surrounding Stargate SG-1), Berman pretty much dashed those hopes before anyone got too excited saying in the Zap2it.com article:

The feeling that I’ve gotten — and this is less than 24 hours old — is that everyone seems to agree that it’s time to give the franchise a rest.

Ouch.

So, there it is”¦After the original Star Trek series in the ‘60s, the miraculous movies of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the other series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and now Enterprise and other movies worked in over the last decade, it looks like the famous Star Trek franchise is (finally) ready to take a break.

According to a couple of Berman’s quotes, it’s just that, a break. Thankfully, he was ready and fans will likely be happy with the results:

Believe it or not, the finale is almost written. It was conceived based on the assumption that it would be the series finale. It’s not like, all of a sudden, we have to scramble. It’s a very special and unique episode, different than anything we’ve done before. It will be a fitting farewell to the franchise for however long it will be before it comes back, because God knows, they haven’t seen the end of Star Trek.

In the mean time, before someone revisits the idea of another series, Berman did say he was in the early stages of development of reviving the movie franchise with characters from The Next Generation.

It’s in a very early stage of development, but that would also go the route of characters that were not based on any TV show, like the previous movies have been.

So, while Trek fans everywhere are probably mourning the news of the franchise being completely cut off from the outside world after 18 years, fans should take heart and note that it will probably be back in some form or another soon enough.

Don’t mourn for too long though. That would be a little too sad for your own good.

* * * * * *

** McFarlane to lead the charge on a new Fox horror series – I’d say this the woefully overlooked news story of the week, only getting major play from publications dedicated reporting just about EVERYTHING television related, and that’s a shame”¦

Anyway, here’s the news: Todd McFarlane (toy mogul and Spawn creator) is teaming up with Angry Films (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Fox to bring a half-hour sci-fi/horror/fantasy anthology series called Twisted Tales to the air. McFarlane will host the show in a dark, dreary basement type setting and will act as a producer as well.

In a Zap2it.com article, McFarlane basically said television wasn’t scary enough for him and was happy to change that landscape:

There is nothing on television that is scary or creepy enough for me, week in and week out. It is my hope to be able to deliver a series that will keep the audience consistently off-balance and frightened.

Why is this a woefully overlooked news story in the television industry? Simply because McFarlane, his production team and Fox are bringing back a genre of television that just about everybody thought disappeared long ago. Instead, everyone’s worried about the ridiculous Yogi Berra lawsuit.

It appears that McFarlane’s show will be a throwback to some degree to the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone shows were viewers were constantly scared and “creeped out” with what they saw on television. Those series never escalated the violence or delivered material that was rated “R,” but they were scary enough, and not scary as in watching CSI or Law & Order and assuming that the entire world is made up of murderers, rapists and child molesters.

But since the 1950s, where has the anthology horror/fantasy series genre gone? Especially in the last 20 years? Stephen Spielberg developed Amazing Stories in the mid ‘80s and UPN briefly brought back The Twilight Zone in 2002 or so before quickly canceling it. Tales from the Crypt managed to stay on the air for seven years with very few people noticing.

It’s certainly a genre that needs to be massaged gently and carefully, as it has the potential to get really dumb and hokey when aired during prime time on a broadcast network and against the rules of the mighty post-Janet-Jackson-nipple FCC. But the bottom line is that even though television has seen its fair share of fairly scary shows (like NBC’s new comedy, Committed, for example) and sci-fi dramas (on a serious note, remember Alien Nation?), this type of show with individual scary fantasy stories being told every week with different characters is different and has the potential to be fun and exciting.

However, I may like this idea. But it doesn’t mean I would like four similar series on the other networks. Maybe I should stop now”¦

* * * * * *

** You mean that John Stamos sitcom that’s been sitting on the shelf for months is actually going to make it on the air??? – Oh yes, it’s true. ABC picked it up last year with the intention of broadcasting at some point in “mid-season” but it got later and later and not only was the cast not rounded out yet, the show didn’t have a premiere date and even worse”¦a NAME.

Well, all that’s been settled to this point. The name of Stamos’ new show is “Jake in Progress and it stars Stamos as a high profile New York City publicist with a penchant for one night stands and not treating women very well in general. The cast will include Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me, Dream On) as Jake’s boss, Ian Gomez (Felicity) as his best friend, and Rick Hoffman (Philly) as a needy artist who latches onto Jake. Former Ed star Julie Bowen is set to appear in the show’s final four episodes as a woman who doesn’t fall for Jake’s charms.

That’s nice. And the premiere date: Sunday, March 13 at 9 p.m. Yes, that’s in the Desperate Housewives timeslot. According to a Zap2it.com report, a repeat was scheduled to run that night anyway. ABC’s thoughts are apparently that they will find some sort of audience when people tune into ABC at that time out of habit and see two episodes in a row of the new show.

Don’t worry though, that’s just a one time thing. After that, ABC is essentially giving the show the kiss of death as it plans on scheduling on Thursday nights at 8 and 8:30 p.m. (two new original episodes each week for six straight weeks). Of course, that’s the worst possible timeslot since it’s opposite Survivor, the NBC comedy lineup and The O.C..

Zap2it.com notes it’s not all bad though since CBS will be broadcasting the NCAA college basketball tournament for two of those Thursdays and the NBC shows and The O.C. will likely be in repeats for some of that time as they gear up for one last run before the end of their seasons. So, one could argue that ABC is actually being somewhat savvy instead of just setting up the Stamos led series to fail. I don’t know”¦the network has ordered 13 episodes, plans on airing them all and hasn’t made any plans to order any more”¦Doesn’t sound promising.

One more interesting note about the show: Even though it’s a half-hour comedy, the producers have abandoned the laugh track and are going with a single camera shoot (like Scrubs and Arrested Development). Sounds a bit risky to me”¦I will say this though. It appears that the show will be more character driven, is supposed to be light in nature, will be shot like a drama. Maybe this series is better off as a one-hour dramedy like Desperate Housewives? We’ll have to wait and see”¦

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** Because it’s always news when a cast member of a recently cancelled, really successful show moves onto other projects, here’s a Patricia Heaton update – Patricia Heaton, Debra Barone on the long running successful CBS sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, waited until the final episode was taped (that happened last week) and didn’t waste any time making sure she had enough celebrity left in her to get some more work.

According to many different sources, Heaton has signed a development deal with ABC and its sister studio, Touchstone TV. The “lucrative” deal includes several different stipulations. First, she will produce both series and long-form projects through the production company she runs with her husband, David Hunt, Four Boys Films (the two have four boys together”¦how adorable”¦). She will executive produce any Four Boys project ABC goes ahead with.

Heaton and ABC will also be actively looking for series for her to star in and any series she stars in, she will also executive produce.

While most of the press didn’t report this, there is also a stipulation that if Heaton is involved with an ABC sitcom that draws more than 20 million viewers per week for four straight, then she automatically becomes mayor of Burbank, Calif. If she does it again, she’s guaranteed her own Greek Island to run her own drug cartel free from arrest and prosecution.

Seriously though, how do stars get deals like this? It’s not like she’s ever going to play any role except the “relatively hot mom who gets pissed off a lot” ever again. Yet, all of a sudden, she’s a successful producer now? Maybe, she took an online class Mark Burnett was offering or something.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to blame her for cashing in on the star power she has now. Crawling into a hole and “taking a break” is probably the worst thing she could do right now to keep herself on the A (minus)-List. So, let’s see what she’s got”¦

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More fun Luke Perry news – First it was a reunion with Jennie Garth on the WB’s What I Like About You, now it’s an appearance on NBC’s hit sitcom, Will & Grace and he’s actually going to play gay!

Not that there’s anything wrong with that”¦

I just don’t think I’ve ever seen him play gay before. (Uh oh”¦I feel a bevy of knowledgeable Groove Tube Update readers ready to prove me otherwise.)

According to TVGuide.com, Perry will appear in the Feb. 17 episode and will play a potential love interest for Jack, meaning it’s probably a one and done run. Jack has the same track record as Paris Hilton when it comes to “successful” relationships, you know. In the episode, “Karen hatches a wild plan to get Jack a date with a bird enthusiast, played by Perry.” I get the feeling this isn’t going to go very smoothly. Call it a hunch.

Is everyone’s favorite Beverly Hills, 90210 loner/drug addict/widower trying to show he can be an accomplished comedic actor too? Is he posturing for his own sitcom or something similar? I don’t know, I’m just trying to incite some deeper thought beyond the fact that Luke Perry is going to play gay”¦

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Why do we report the news of ordered television
pilots?

I’d say overall, it was a pretty slow news week in the television industry. Some interesting things happened, but for the most part, it appears all the earth shattering will be saved for another week.

However, that depends on how one views the definition of “news.”

As a diligent writer for InsidePulse.com, I always check out what kind of stuff “the competition” is up to. Are they doing any interesting features? Do they have any interesting news, internal or otherwise? How is the writing? You know, things like that.

Well, it appears that “the competition” is getting into the habit of reporting many (if not every) pilot episode of a new show being ordered as if it’s really hot, important news.

My question is simple. Why?

Let’s review what a pilot episode is. In order for television networks to determine what kind of series make up their prime time schedules (and in some cases, daytime), executives often want to see exactly what they’re getting into with a new series. It basically means the executives liked the script enough to pay a somewhat paltry sum of money (for a broadcasting company that makes tens of billions of dollars every year, it’s paltry anyway) to see one episode of the series made to see if it’s worth producing more episodes and holding down a place in the prestigious (only because there really aren’t that many spots) prime time lineup.

Getting to the point of making a pilot episode is a big deal, only in that there are so many scripts floating around Hollywood, that getting any money from a network to make a pilot is a big deal. But in the grand scheme of things when so few pilots are developed into a series, reporting that a network ordered a pilot for a series is like the New York Daily News reporting every single mugging and pick pocket in the five boroughs of New York City every day.

It’s just not that interesting, especially this time of year known as “pilot season” when the industry is scrambling trying to get pilots done that might get enough notice this summer to end up on the fall schedule (or whenever they appear with this new year round thing).

Let’s keep in mind that established stars like Alyson Hannigan, Nick Lachey, Gina Gershon and Kirstie Alley all were involved in pilots in 2004 and none of them were picked up by the networks that ordered them. If these type of high profile actors aren’t getting their series picked up, it means that there are a lot of them are being made and not getting picked up.

So, that’s where I take a stand with my column and the type of news I want seen in my column and, to some degree, in the InsidePulse.com TV Zone in general. To television and entertainment business publications like Variety, this type of news is important to some degree. After all, agents, producers, struggling actors and anyone in Hollywood need to keep tab on each other, generally for survival in one ay or another.

But I don’t see the need to report and analyze/discuss the news of pilots being made because there’s a really good chance that the show may not turn into a series on the prime time lineup. That’s where the real news is. A show a network will actually show will mean more to the network’s fortunes, then one that may never see the light of day with the exception of the few hundred people in the studio audience.

I know where our faithful editor, Murtz, stands on the issue. He agrees and you probably won’t see much of that news on IP TV. As for me, going forward, I’m not going to touch that type of news with a 10-foot pole in my column unless I’m so desperate to talk about something, that a pilot commitment makes me daydream of the most impossible, yet exciting, scenarios.

In the mean time, I’ll focus on the real news, like shows we already know will be coming on or going off the air, actors and what they are up to and anything else relevant to the television industry as it stands now. It all just feels more real to me”¦

And hey, it’s nothing against the hardworking production teams that put together these pilots that never see the light of day after they are recorded. But to be honest, if we were to look at this from a write’s perspective, I’ll ask this: Would you want reports on every single paragraph I had written before settling on this final draft that got posted on the site? If you’re saying “HELL NO!” then maybe you’ll understand my disdain for pretending reporting pilot commitments is news. The same way I’m trying things out before I actually settle on what I want to write about, television executives and producers do that too”¦We don’t need to be reporting on it.

— Coogan